In North Carolina, “retaliation” does not cover every single time an employer retaliates against an employee. The courts will only consider a claim of retaliation if it violates a specific law.
Complaints of Discrimination
All of the federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on a protected class also carry with them a prohibition on retaliation. An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint of discrimination, threatening a complaint of discrimination, assisting in a complaint of discrimination, acting as a witness in a complaint of discrimination, or encouraging someone to file a complaint of discrimination. These are all considered “protected activities.”
To win in a case of retaliation under one of these laws, the employee must show that they engaged in one of these protected activities, that they were later subjected to an adverse employment action, and that there was a causal connection between the two (the adverse action was taken because of their engagement in a protected activity).
Retaliation claims under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the retaliatory incident, and carry with them the same possible remedies as the underlying discrimination.
For more information on the underlying discrimination claims, please select the type of discrimination from the left sidebar.
North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act
The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (“REDA”) prohibits retaliation for a variety of state law reasons. The most common REDA claims involve retaliation for participation in complaints made under the Worker’s Compensation Act, the Wage and Hour Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina (“OSHA”). Participation in complaints under these acts is considered “protected activity.”
As with retaliation for participation in federal discrimination claims, the victim must show that they engaged in a protected activity, that they were later subjected to an adverse employment action, and that their participation in the protected activity was the reason for the adverse employment action.
REDA complaints must be filed with the North Carolina Department of Labor within 180 days of the retaliatory incident. Successful REDA actions can win employees all lost wages, other monetary costs, and—if the violation was “willful”—triple damages.
For answers to your employment retaliation questions and to set up a consultation, call a Hensel Law attorney today at (336) 218-6466.